Venus, an online publication dedicated to showcasing the work and experiences of self-identified women and non-binary folk, celebrated its launch on Friday, March 3 at Spider House Cafe and Ballroom. In the company of Austin-based vendors and musicians, University of Texas at Austin students and Austinites alike, the launch party was filled with creativity and charm.
Story by Imani Sebri
Photos by Kiana Fernandez
The tumultuous 2016 Presidential election and the flurry of uncertainty that followed is what spurred the creation of Venus. “I had always wanted to create a space to talk about women in music and science, two of my personal passions, then the election happened,” says founder and editor-in-chief of Venus, Jordan Joyce. “I had to create Venus. I immediately started building a website and writing articles and then I started reaching out to the girls in my life.”
By creating an outlet where women can express and celebrate themselves through different mediums, Venus was able to regain control of a narrative that has been historically co-opted and stripped of agency. “By creating a space for those voices, we’re making sure that everyone gets a chance to share their voice without being shut down,” Joyce says. “Our goal is to represent the multitude of facets that come with being a woman and be inclusive of the all perspectives.”
With performances by Austin’s very own, including Born Again Virgins, The Bishops, Allysa Grace, and slam poetry by Noor Wadi, the performances at Venus’s launch showcased the inclusivity and diversity Joyce discusses.
At its core, the publication seeks to create a space where women and nonbinary people are able to create and utilize a platform for themselves. Second year UT law student and spoken word poet Noor Wadi says she agrees with this purpose. “Certain narratives are being challenged and it’s all coming from artists,” Wadi says. “For me, [challenging those narratives] through art is so important because it can touch a much larger audience.” As she looks around, Wadi admits that “Even at this [Venus] event, people I would typically not meet, got to hear an experience they may not have ever heard before. It’s cool.”
There’s something very unique and exciting about having an all-femme staff coming from different backgrounds because it gives a spotlight to the female and non-binary experience without looking at it through a monolithic lens. “There’s definitely something magical about feminine energy,” Joyce says. “We are all incredibly supportive of each other and that makes it a great environment for creativity to flow."
A number of women-led, UT organizations showed up as well. UT Austin Voices Against Violence and Feminist Latinx Organization Empowering Society, or FLORES, both tabled at the event with information and org paraphernalia.
“FLORES advocates for the rights [of] Latinx women while honoring our Latinx roots,” says Nikki Lopez, history and Mexican-American studies sophomore and FLORES President. “Currently, we’re selling buttons for $1 and the proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. And before, the donations were sent to the Legal Defense team at Standing Rock.”
The women of Venus have their eyes fixed on the future. “Our main long-term goal is to make this into a space where women and non-binary people feel safe, welcomed and represented. We are focusing on finding other female-centric organizations to collaborate with and support,” Joyce says.